• A rare gem

    Jason Adams chats to Penélope Cruz about motherhood, her humble beginnings and designing jewellery for Swarovski
    A rare gem

    One of the themes in your latest film, Pain and Glory, is addiction. Are you addicted to anything?

    I’ve always been addicted to my family and even more so since I’ve become a mother. This has saved me from many problems and helped me to connect to life. I’m also addicted to cinema. This started when I was 17. I remember when I finished my very first shoot, I thought that I really needed to feel this again, this deep feeling… If it stopped, I would feel lost and wouldn’t know what to do with my life. And so I realised that performing had become an addiction. It’s been my life since I was a kid.

    Tell us more about being a mom…

    It just makes you grow so much. The attention is not on yourself anymore – you always think about other people first and that’s very healthy. The ego goes to the back of the line. Kids teach you so much – every child is a teacher.

    What lessons have you learnt from your kids?

    It’s constant. I don’t like to talk about the specifics, but it’s a constant lesson, it’s a beautiful thing.

    Aside from acting, you’ve been designing jewellery with Swarovski. What is the most treasured possession in your jewellery box?

    It was my grandmother’s ring, a garnet ring. I always wanted that one when I was little. She gave it to me before she died. And then it was lost or stolen. So in the collection, we created one red ring in homage to her, with red rubies.

    What was the first special thing you bought with your own money when starting out as an actress?

    I think my agent told me that I had to have better clothes. I saved some money from my first jobs and I went with her to buy a shirt, a serious jacket, and things that I didn’t own, for some of the castings.

    How did you learn the value of money? Was it through your parents?

    Through my parents, yes. Because I saw them working really hard and not taking anything for granted. That really impressed me.

    What did you dream of doing when you were a teenager?

    Going to the Caribbean. I had this recurrent dream, that a boat was taking me to the Caribbean and every time I was going to wake up after the long trip, my mum would wake me up. I was arriving in Jamaica or the Bahamas and my mum would wake me up and say, ‘Go to school.’ And this happened all the time. And then later, when I went to the Caribbean I understood, because I fell in love with it completely. I knew that I must have been there in a past life, because there was a very strong connection.

    When did you finally go?

    When I was 20 or 21. I went to Jamaica, where they shot The Blue Lagoon, and it was breathtaking.

    Have you ever had periods of being out of work?

    I’ve been very lucky, you know, because I have not been out of work. But I cannot say, ‘Oh I don’t even know how that must feel’, no, because I have a lot of friends who are in that situation, unfortunately, and are very talented, and they don’t have a job. So I am very, very grateful for what I have.

    What other passions do you have?

    I like cooking. I know how to knit because my grandmother taught me. So these are things that I like, but can’t do every day because of work. Reading about nutrition, reading about medicine, reading about parenting – these are my subjects.

    Are there any issues you feel very strongly about?

    With food, I only buy eco-friendly. I have discovered a place where you don’t have to use plastic bags. They give everything to you in cardboard boxes. And, you can only buy what is in season, so you will not find any fruit or vegetables that are imported from overseas. I think that’s an important way of consuming.

    Are there any other ways you are environmentally conscious?

    Well, I try. I think it is important to do what you can at home and then at work, if you can. I did a Netflix documentary called Our Planet. I did the voice-over work for the Spanish version and I learned so much. I did seven episodes and I learned about how quickly the Earth can recover if we act soon – how there is still hope. If we do some things right, it’s amazing what capacity for recovery there is. And that’s the message that they give, and I think young people need to hear that. Not only, ‘Oh all is lost, there is nothing we can do to stop this.’ We can still do things that would make a difference, for example, with the usage of plastic.

    Photography: Gallo/Getty Images

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